“La liberté comme non-domination” – Le néo-républicanisme – Politikon #16

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How to rethink just society
as a result of what we have seen in previous episodes of Politikon, whether with John Rawls’s political liberalism or the libertarianism of a Robert
Nozick. In the last episode, we could also see
that falsely egalitarian pretensions of luck egalitarianism. Luck egalitarians actually
reproduce economic and social domination by wishing to integrate desert
and individual responsibility in their theory of social justice. A coherent egalitarianism and remember with
Amartya Sen that any political theory seeking a just society is based on the implementation
of an equality of something, a consistent egalitarianism therefore must
fight all forms of domination and thus to prevent social relations from being
affected by exploitation, marginalization, violence. It is to this ambition that a
renewed political theory respond: neo-republicanism which one of its leading authors is the philosopher
Philip Pettit. We will see that understanding republicanism
as a normative political philosophy allowing to think a society just goes
allow us to understand both how liberalism may not be the
best defender of freedom and how in France we are maybe not so Republican
we would like to believe it. Republican thought was submerged
in the twentieth century both liberalism and Marxism. Historians and philosophers have
however given the task of giving back vivacity to this philosophy
political school born during antiquity. Among them, we can count the New Zealander historian
John Greville Agard Pocock and his work The Machiavellian moment published in 1975 or
Quentin Skinner with the book The Foundations of modern political thought published in 1978. Pocock and Skinner were interested in
what has been called civic humanism and which took off during the Renaissance
and in Italian cities with thinkers such as Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni,
and in a more famous way with Machiavelli. For civic humanism, and largely inspired
by the political thought of Aristotle, being human being is by nature a political being who
only reaches its true humanity in participation in civic and political life. This citizenship takes place within a
Republic ordered by the men themselves for the common good and the freedom of
each. This freedom is never better embodied
only in the figure of the citizen who participates in political life. Taking part in political decisions makes
truly free in the sense that one does not suffer the will of others. In this perspective, freedom is
in common, in the common elaboration of laws and social life. From there, we sometimes distinguish a republicanism
neo-Athenian who puts forward the participation Hannah Arendt’s Politics
for example, and a neo-Roman republicanism which focuses on freedom. The neo-epublicanism of the Irish philosopher
Philip Pettit that we will see now claims more of the latter. Philip Pettit’s political thought possesses
an epistemological and metaphysical foundation. The Irish philosopher subscribes to a holism
social for which human capabilities can not be the product of a single individual
isolated, but in reality they have relations with others. He states that “no individual is
able to manifest a human psychology which is proper to him; the realization of this
kind of psychology is something that the people can only accomplish in community
with the others. ” For Pettit, society does not prevail
on individuals in terms of causes that drive them. He remains individualistic but argues that
thought can only be produced in common, that the capacities and activities of
people could not be developed if they remained alone.
As Jean-Fabien Spitz explains in a book dedicated to Pettit, epistemological thinking
of the Irish philosopher has political consequences. Political institutions must not
be established from the idea that the individual can act alone. We must reject the idea that freedom
can be understood as the fundamental value of an individual who thinks or acts alone, according to
a will and preferences. Political values ​​must be inscribed
as common values. For Pettit, this must come to fruition in
the republican assertion of freedom as non-domination. Pettit undertakes to rehabilitate this design
of freedom, born of Roman republicanism and whose apogee crystallized
in the Italian cities of the Renaissance, in the ambitions of some revolutionaries
American and French, before losing of its influence with the rise of classical liberalism
. For Pettit, classical liberalism is
characterized by the promotion of freedom as non-interference. This conception of freedom is understood
like that which prevents an individual undergoes intentional interference
a third. It corresponds to the negative freedom such
that she was popularized by Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay Two Concepts
of Liberty. For Berlin, negative freedom is defined as follows: I am free as long as no one stands in the way
to my freedom and my actions, I am free as long as I am not forced, that I do not undergo interference. Negative freedom is different in Berlin
of positive freedom conceived as autonomy and self-realization and who can assert themselves
in participation in civic and political life. For Pettit, this distinction is problematic
because it obscures a third way of understand freedom that is conceived neither as
negative or positive: it is freedom as non-domination. Freedom as non-domination comes correct
two defects specific to freedom as non-interference. First, it takes into account the fact
that the interference is not necessarily synonymous with deprivation of liberty; secondly,
it adds that freedom can be affected by factors other than intentional interference
. To support the first thesis, Pettit explains
that all types of interference should not be placed on the same scale. It is a mistake of liberalism to confuse
for example, the act of being robbed of money by a delinquent and that of
pay taxes to the state. In the second case, says Pettit, there
certainly has interference but non-arbitrary interference. An act of interference is not arbitrary
“To the extent that it is binding to take into account the interests and
ideas of the person undergoing this interference. ” The person who is subject to a
non-arbitrary interference is taken into account at the same time as his interests by
the issuer of it. If the tax is interference,
it’s not arbitrary because it’s based on the public interest in which the person
taxable is included. Another mistake of liberalism is to believe
that intentional interference is the unique modality of deprivation of liberty. Republicanism is in this respect
more consequent since he states that he can be domination – effective obstruction
of freedom – without interference. The example of Pettit is famous: “I may be the slave of another
– without actually being interfered with any of my choices. It may just happen that my master is of a kindly and non-interfering disposition. Or it may just happen that I am cunning or fawning enough to be able to get away with doing wathever I like. I suffer domination to the extent that I have a master; I enjoy non-interference to the extent that that master fails to interfere.” If this example is to illustrate
clear a case of domination without interference, such situations are actually all
quite common, they express relationships of domination between two parties the most
powerful does not need to have an intention clear to dominate: relations between an employer and an employee whose bargaining power is weaker,
between an abusive husband and his wife, etc. In these examples, the weaker part may
develop deference strategies of convenience to avoid arbitrary interference
. There is inequality between the parties since
there is a relationship of domination and that dominant part has a power to interfere
which he may or may not use: “this fact means that the power-victim act in the relevant area by the leave, explicit or implicit, of the power-bearer; it means that they live at the mercy at the mercy of this person […] it follows that power-victim cannot enjoy psychological status of an equal: they are in a position where fear and deference will be the normal order of the day, not the frankness that goes with intersubjective equality. ” For Pettit, equality is conceptually inseparable from freedom understood as
non-domination, “To want republican freedomn you have to want republican equality”. In this perspective, republicanism must favor what Pettit calls
“personal independence” which is understood as social, political and economic. “To be independent, in the intented sense is to have the wherewithal to operate normally and properly in your society without having to beg or borrow from others, and without having to depend on their beneficence.” For Pettit, this independence corresponds
to the possession of capabilities such as defined by Amartya Sen, particularly in
the book Rethinking Inequality that we saw in De Dicto 14. For Pettit, there are two reasons that justify
State intervention in this regard: first, “the state will guard the socioeconomically dependent against forms of domination that otherwise they will almost certainly have to endure.”, second, “the state will facilitate undominated choice on the part of the socioeconomically dependent. ” We will see now that the approach of
Pettit helped revive republicanism on new foundations, particularly in
French authors such as Jean-Fabien Spitz or Cécile Laborde on which we will linger
now. The book of french political theorist Cécile Laborde Critical Republicanism : The Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy, aims to put forward a republicanism
redesigned in the French context where the Republic is said with a capital letter and
tremolos in the voice. It is secularism that is particularly
studied in this context. Laborde first distinguishes two types of
républicanismes. The first is well known: it is a
Offical Republicanism or classical in the French context, and
which abounds in institutional discourses, among men and women politicians,
and who knew his high point in the implementation of the French 2004 law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools. The other is in a more open relationship
to secularism, Laborde calls it tolerant republicanism for which religious signs
can be worn within the school and that wanting to ban them leads to
effects contrary to those sought: exclusion, intolerance, especially and especially for
young muslim girls wearing the veil. For Laborde, a coherent republicanism
can not lead to closed secularism, ethnocentric and paternalistic that excludes. However, she does not join republicanism
says tolerant in that it only thinks that terms of recognition of religious minorities
by the majority without thinking about the overall context, both social and economic. We must therefore go beyond official republicanism
or classical as well as tolerant and multicultural republicanism to result in
a critical republicanism inspired by Pettit. Critical republicanism does not attach itself
an abstract ideal, blind to differences, nor seek to a simple recognition
of minorities and their supposed peculiarities. Critical republicanism aims for non-domination
that goes through a social egalitarianism in which all types of inequalities, social,
economic, political, are taken into account and especially how they bind
between them according to the contexts. The goal is to achieve participation
of all to political life by eliminating obstacles getting in the way
dominated individuals, these barriers may related to discrimination in the private domain and in the public domain, at the social and economic or political level. If you liked this episode of Politikon, do not hesitate to share it to subscribe, to activate the small bell to be able to see all the videos coming out and make a donation on tipeee or utip if you want! Waiting for the next, I wish you a happy new year, to live a life without arbitrary interference and without domination, take care and see you next time!


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